Assoc Prof Walter Theseira: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) whether EMA monitors Open Electricity Market providers to ensure that customers who have switched understand the full terms governing their new billing arrangements; (b) whether EMA has received complaints from customers regarding difficulties in making payment arrangements and avoiding penalty charges; (c) why providers are not required to offer the same payment mechanisms that SP Services offers; and (d) what can be done to ensure customers can seamlessly transfer their billing arrangements.
Written reply (to be attributed to Minister for Trade & Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing)
1. Mr Speaker, a key priority for the Energy Market Authority (EMA) when rolling out the Open Electricity Market (OEM) is to ensure that the terms and conditions of retailers’ price plans are clear and easy for household consumers to understand.
2. Thus, EMA requires all OEM retailers to provide a Fact Sheet using a standard template for every price plan that they offer to household consumers. The Fact Sheet highlights the key features of a price plan, including the billing arrangement and any penalty charges such as late payment or early termination fees. All OEM retailers must make their Fact Sheets easily available on their websites and on EMA’s online Price Comparison Tool. They also need to obtain the consumer’s explicit acknowledgement that he has read and understood the Fact Sheet during the sign-up process.
3. EMA monitors the situation via consumer complaints, Mystery Shopper Audits and Consumer Satisfaction Surveys. Thus far, the overall level of satisfaction has been high. There has been very few complaints about payment arrangements.
4. Retailers are given the flexibility to offer different payment arrangements to meet the needs of their customers. The more traditional payment arrangements offered by SP Group, such as GIRO, credit card and AXS Stations, are usually available. Some provide new payment methods such as PayNow, which is not offered by SP Group. Others have chosen to engage SP Group to bill and collect payment on their behalf, thereby saving their customers the need to change their billing arrangement. We encourage consumers to consider all these options and choose one that best suit their needs.